A fine red table wine with dinner, followed by a pleasant if unusual bottle of bubbly (French, but from the Loire and not Champagne) made for a wine lover's idea of a happy, quiet New Year's Eve evening at home:
Bolla 1990 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico ($19.95)
Very dark garnet color. Deep black-fruit aromas with nuances of "cigar box" and leather. Full, mouth-filling fruit, black cherries, plums and a hint of prunes; warmly potent at 14 percent alcohol, quite tannic and showing sufficient acidity for balance. Stone fruit and pleasantly earthy notes of leather persist in a fairly long finish. U.S. importer: Brown-Forman Beverages Worldwide, Louisville. (Dec. 31, 1997)
FOOD MATCH: It takes a hearty meal to come up to Amarone. I solved the problem by pan-grilling a thick black Angus T-bone with a splash of red wine and flamed it at the end of cooking with a shot of Kentucky Bourbon. The winey and Bourbon-caramel flavors accented the rich red beef with notes that sang nicely in harmony with the Amarone, and a side dish of cabbage and onions, no shrinking violet, made a pleasant counterpoint.
Huet non-vintage Vouvray Brut ($18.99)
Clear gold in color, with a lasting fountain of pinpoint bubbles. The aroma is striking and idiosyncratic, showing the ripe, funky, almost "cheesey" character of a demi-sec Vouvray with an overlay of "cat spray," a combination of forward, outrageous scents that do require an acquired taste, but lovers of the Loire can't get enough of it. Fresh, crisp and creamy on the palate, not perceptibly sweet, with musky melon fruit and nuances consistent with the nose. U.S. importer not shown, but it appears to be a direct import by the Kentucky Party Source/Liquor Outlet chain in Louisville. (Dec. 31, 1997)
All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.||